Packet Rat: The new Rat, in sheepskin clothing

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

'From now on, you may refer to me as His Excellency the Right Honorable Dr. Rat, Ph.D., Esq.,' the Rat informed his spouse. 'Oh, and did I forget Doctor of Theology?'

Mrs. Rat rolled her eyes. 'I'm almost afraid to ask where this sudden rush of megalomania came from.'

The whiskered one replied: 'Over lunch hour, I found a new way to beef up my resume. I've incorporated myself as a center of higher learning and granted myself a few degrees based on life credits.'

He proffered a weighty stack of laser-printed sheepskins.

'Here, let me walk you through this,' he said. 'First, here's my theological degree as an ordained minister of an online church.'

'Er, what church is that?' his wife asked skeptically.

'Why, it's the Fellowship of Religious Academic University Discipleship,' the Rat replied, 'familiarly known as FRAUD. Its tenets hold that a divine force can instill instant knowledge in those who sincerely believe'and tithe appropriately to their chosen academic calling.'

The wirebiter flipped a few more pages of official-looking paperwork.

'Next, I used my religious institution status to found a university, exempt from state oversight because it's faith-based. Then I incorporated a nonprofit, higher learning association based at Uncle Swampy's hunting cabin in North Dakota. A half-hour of print work later, voila: I'm a highly degreed scholar.'

'That's all very nice,' his better half acknowledged, 'but who on Earth is going to recognize a degree from St. Fink's Institute of Technology of Minot, N.D.? You can't just set up a college without accreditation.'

'But see, that's the beauty of it, sweetheart. Other highly placed government and industry officials have gone far with diploma mill degrees. One entered government service almost 20 years ago, for crying out loud. They've survived background checks who knows how many times, and they've got official-looking transcripts.'

Mrs. Rat shook her head in disbelief. 'So, how did these people manage to do IT work without anyone catching on for so long?'

'Obviously, it was OJT,' the Rat responded. 'On-the-job training. Life credit, as some like to call it.

'If other feds have pulled this off, why would any investigator bother to question my own doctorate in applied network engineering? It's an area in which I am unequalled'if I do say so myself'and all I plan to use it for is leverage for a bigger cubicle and a spot on a few trade show panels.'

Mrs. Rat spent a few more moments perusing the flawlessly formatted diplomas, then nodded. 'OK, I'll buy that. But drop the law degree. It's overkill.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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